Stockton Graham & Co. is proud to be the exclusive sponsor for the first-ever statewide coffee competition in North Carolina. This groundbreaking event will feature 12 coffee roasters who will compete for the best coffee in North Carolina. The competition will take place on October 14 from 3:00pm – 5:00pm in the Special Cooking Contest area in the Education Building of the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. This is the first statewide coffee competition on the East Coast and the second-ever statewide coffee competition in the United States.
“We are excited to do this and bring the coffee community together. Coffee has always been a collaborative industry and this introduces a whole new group of consumers to appreciate great specialty coffee and promote North Carolina industry and jobs,” said Jeff Vojta, co-founder and CEO of Stockton Graham & Co.
In addition to ribbons, there will be three cash prize winners; $100 for grand champion, $75 for the reserve champion and the honorable mention will receive $50.
The competitors are:
Coffee, community and lifestyle are the three guiding principles of this roasting company.
Micro-roaster featuring the finest coffee from around the world. They roast to highlight the skill of farmers.
Back Alley Coffee Roasters wants to let the bean do the talking! Each single origin coffee has something unique to contribute.
Bethesda’s mission is to provide high quality custom coffees and give excellent customer service to individuals and businesses.
Cafe De Los Muertos’ mission is to roast and serve great coffee. They also want to showcase other roasters as well as local food artists.
Team Camp has a passion for coffee. They are always learning and looking for new ideas to make the best coffee.
Carrboro Coffee Roasters is a premier small batch artisan roaster that has drawn international attention.
Larry’s Beans is happily committed to blending and roasting innovative uniquely delicious coffees — and making the world a better place.
Magic Beans, Pfafftown, NC
Magic Beans is a North Carolina roaster based in Pfafftown near Winston Salem.
Mountain Air sources coffees from East Africa and the Americas that can be generally characterized as bright, clean, and sweet.
Pushwater Coffee is a small batch coffee roaster with a big mission. They put their farmers first.
Summit Coffee Company, Davidson NC
Summit’s story began in 1998 and theirs is a story about coffee, adventure, and people.
Coffee Competition Focuses on Specialty Coffee In North Carolina
So what exactly is “specialty coffee?” And what is the process of getting to the point of having a roasted bean ready for a coffee competition?
As many coffee shop owners may or may not know, specialty coffee is defined as any coffee that scores above 80 points on a 100-point scale. Typically, specialty coffee is grown at high altitudes, with lots of attention and care from the farmers. Then, it is sold at a premium direct to coffee roasters or to coffee traders.
The roasters then create custom profiles for each coffee highlighting and showcasing the natural flavors of the bean. This is where the craftsmanship of roasting takes place and this is where we at Stockton Graham & Co. and all roasters have an opportunity to shine.
It is clear that there is an art to the sourcing, storing and roasting that makes for coffee perfection, but this is only one side of the coin for the roaster looking to make an award-winning cup.
The next step (and this is what twelve different North Carolinian roasters set out to showcase in a coffee competition) is preparation. This will involve decisions for the competitors about water, grind and method they will use to compete.
Which brings us to another new defining factor in this new age of coffee competition and that is an attention to detail that takes coffee to a level of fussiness previously only seen in wine circles. This shouldn’t be surprising, given that coffee has two to three times as many flavor compounds as wine does.
“We are going to be judging the best coffee, best prepared,” said Brad Kirby, who is the Director of Coffee at Stockton Graham & Co. “If you are going to prepare an Ethiopia, it’s going to need to have a certain acidity and a discernable fruitiness.”
When asked more specifically about the reason coffee is just now being noticed for the craft beverage it can be, Kirby says he believes that it has taken coffee longer to position itself in the specialty market because where coffee is grown and where coffee is roasted are so far removed from one another.
Although we obviously can’t grow coffee here, North Carolina is rooted in agriculture. It is our leading industry. We are number one nationally for flue-cured tobacco and sweet potatoes and we are second in the nation for Christmas trees, hogs and pigs, trout, and turkeys. There are about 48,000 farms in North Carolina and agriculture alone is an $84 Billion industry.
Globally speaking and when it comes to coffee there are approximately 25 million farmers and coffee workers in over 50 countries involved in producing coffee around the world. Coffee was traditionally developed as a colonial cash crop, planted by serfs or wage laborers in tropical climates on large plantations of landowners for sale in colonial countries.
Coffee is the US’s largest food import and second most valuable commodity only after oil. In recent years, new cafés have been opening at an explosive rate, making specialty coffee mainstream and increasing profit margins for specialty coffee roasters and retailers.